Vanilla Pudding

vanilla pudding
Ahhhh Vanilla Pudding.  Homemade Vanilla Pudding....ahhhh.....

Certainly, Vanilla Pudding surely seems, well, vanilla.  Basic and boring.  And, “really?”

I get it. 

Too, what the heck, just go buy a flippin’ box of pudding mix from the store and just make that…

I get that too.

But you know I'm gonna say it:  ain't nothin' vanilla about this Vanilla Pudding.

It is abso-freakin’-lutley worth the tiny little itsy bitsy bit of extra legwork over a store bought box any day of the week. 

Plus, bonus, you know exactly what’s in this recipe while a box mix?  Yeah, I dunno what’s in that. 

Not knocking the stuff in the box as it is good, nor am I knocking the convenience of it either.  Just this one time, try homemade from scratch and you’ll see what you’ve been missing all this time.

A real lusciousness, fully a true vanilla flavor, with ingredients you likely have on hand already, and it comes together in less time than driving one way to the store.

No funky this, odd thing that, fakey chemical tasting flavors, weird thickeners, or what-have-you; just straight up real ingredients and a pudding you can feel good about.
vanilla pudding in a dish
And I always feel good about pudding.

I’ve previously waxed poetic about the joy of my and my brother’s salad bar pudding adventures at the restaurant Beef & Stein when we were small kids. 

Insert trip down memory lane pause here. 

In trying to remember the name of that restaurant, I read online that someone is or is thinking of resurrecting that restaurant (had no idea it was a chain) and a nostalgic grin slowly crossed my sanguine face. 

They better have the salad bar and especially that salad bar pudding. 

Oh, in more pudding memories, after school sometimes at my friend Ari’s house, shaking up some of that new-to-me instant pudding in the plastic cups they used to include with your purchase.  We'd watch Pink Panther movies and gobble it up.

Heh. Pudding grin. 

I’ve clearly always been a big big pudding fan and for me, if you can nail a Vanilla Pudding, sort of the most elementary of things, you’re a winner. 

And you will be a winner because you will nail this.  It’s not hard at all yet it will taste like it was, all fancy, upscale, and luxurious. 

Look, I get it.  Sometimes simple can seem scary as there’s nowhere to hide beneath layers of flavor or snazzy flourishes.  

I’m standing here clapping knowing you’ve got this. 

And trust me, this is not a throwaway recipe.  

Because not only can you simply dish it out and serve it up as is, you can use this recipe for anywhere Vanilla Pudding is called for. 

Sooo, glam up that trifle.  Knock an icebox cake outta the park.  Pop those parfaits.  Eat it just off the spoon.

So, see?  Nothing boring or basic about Vanilla Pudding.  And once you try this one, you’ll be very in the know. 

Ready to go?!  Ok!

vanilla pudding ingredients
Grab a medium bowl,* or I prefer my four cup measuring cup* as it has a pour spout, and toss in the cornstarch, two tablespoons of sugar measured out of the half cup the recipe calls for, a pinch of salt, and the two eggs.

Meanwhile, grab a medium-ish sauce pan* and pour in the milk, dump in the rest of the sugar, and the seeds of a scraped vanilla bean pod.  The bean* is optional but it lends a subtle additional layer of slinky, slightly smoky vanilla-ness.  I've done it both ways, with and without the bean and it's a win either way.

I toss in the pod too just for ya know, sh*t's and giggles even though it probably doesn't steep long enough.

vanilla bean pod in milk in sauce pan
Oh and by the way, if you want to get swanky rich about it, sub in some heavy cream for a portion of the milk.  Mm hmm, that's right.

Ok, let that heat up until it starts steaming or about five-ish minutes or so.

Now go back to the other bowl and whisk* that up super well until it's completely combined, turning a bit of my favorite pale yellow color.

whisked eggs and cornstarch
When the milk stuff is steaming, start slowly streaming it into the eggy stuff while whisking constantly. 

tempering egg mixture
If you used the vanilla bean pod, pour all of it in because next we're going to strain it with a fine mesh sieve* to get chunky pod bits out.

Don't forget to save that pod!

All righty, either way, strain the liquid back into the sauce pan, plop the pan back on the heat, turn it up a bit, and whisk* whisk whisk.  When the bubbles start dissipating, you're almost there. 

It'll thicken up nicely and remember, it'll thicken up a bit more as it cools so no need to go super whole hog.

Take the pan off the heat, toss in the butter and the vanilla extract, stir it up...

adding butter and vanilla extract
... and bam, it's Vanilla Pudding y'all.

finished homemade vanilla pudding
Yum to the max yum yum yum.  This pudding is so good, I have randomly occurring thoughts out of nowhere all the time about how I need a nice, comforting bowl of it.

vanilla pudding dished
Serve it warm, serve it cold, up to you but you're definitely going to enjoy this one!

vanilla pudding

*The mixing bowls, 4 cup measuring cups, vanilla bean pods, sauce pans, whisks, and fine mesh sieves are Amazon affiliate links.  Happy baking, thanks!  Please see the "info" tab for more, well, info.

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